Summer school is becoming more and more a part of the UW-Madison experience.
Three in every 10 UW-Madison undergraduates enrolled in at least one course over the summer, up from about two in every 10 students five years ago, according to university data.
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank launched a campaign in recent years to increase the number of students taking summer courses to more than 9,000 students by 2020. Officials reached that goal this summer with 9,226 students, or 30.4% of undergraduates, enrolling in at least one course.
Expanding summer term is seen by the university as a way to accomplish two goals: Reducing the time it takes students to complete their degrees and providing a boost to campus coffers amid an ongoing resident undergraduate tuition freeze and funding cuts in previous state budgets that college leaders say have not been recovered.
Revenue increased nearly $7 million over the past two years, from $24.6 million over summer 2017 to $31.4 million this summer, records show.
The popularity of online courses continues to rise, according to Aphra Mednick, associate dean of summer term. The format gives students flexibility in scheduling to pursue other plans, such as a job, internship or study abroad program.
About 1,000 more students enrolled in at least one online course compared to summer 2018. That’s a roughly 25% increase in online enrollment.
“We’ve tried to really speak to the demand that students are looking for,” Mednick said.
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About 60% of the university’s total enrollment was online, and 40% were face-to-face. That’s up from about equal shares of delivery formats in summer 2017 and 2018. Roughly 10% of students enrolled in both types of courses this summer.
Most of the 108 new courses offerings this summer were delivered online. Four of the five most popular summer courses were online.
Along with online programming, the university is expanding its early-start programs for incoming freshmen.
Officials debuted this summer the Wisconsin Experience Summer Launch where 50 students earned five credits toward their degrees in online courses and also met other students in their incoming class. Another new course geared toward incoming freshmen, UW Rebels and Revolutions, took 17 incoming freshmen to Ireland to study history, politics and culture with a faculty member.
“A lot of students are eager to get started early,” Mednick said.
The university awarded a record $1.5 million in scholarships for about 20% of students enrolled in summer term, she said.
That includes 67 students who received a Summer Finish scholarship, up from 20 students in 2018. The $1,000 awards are for students just short of enough credits to graduate that use the award to finish their degree over the summer instead of staying on campus another semester.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the percentage of online course enrollments making up summer courses.